I was shocked by the site of the burned-out shell of the three-story home and hoped that no one had been injured -- or worse.
Though I was a distance away, I could see firefighters taping off the property and sifting through debris. It was a damp, sticky morning. I saw no people other than the firefighters, so I assumed the people who lived there had been taken in by friends or relatives.
As I continued my drive to work, I kept thinking about that charred building.
"How must those residents have felt, losing everything in an instant?" I wondered. "How would my wife and I have felt if it were our home?" In my mind's eye, I saw us being awakened from a sound sleep by the smoke alarm or perhaps the barking of our dogs, acrid smoke burning our eyes, fearing flames somewhere in the house.
While we would hopefully escape with the animals in plenty of time, leaving everything behind, I couldn't imagine losing our home.
I empathized with the victims of that Bridgeport house.
I wondered what family valuables and memories these folks had to leave behind as they escaped, especially from the upper floors.
What feelings of emptiness they must have had as they watched their home go up in flames.
I thought long and hard about that also.
If fire destroyed our home, we'd surely be overcome with profound sadness and loss.
Pictures, collectibles like my wife's teapots and menorahs, paintings and furniture, some of which spans the 47 years of our marriage, all could be wrenched away in an instant. On a lighter vein, I could see my wife trying to retrieve some of the fabric we use for our quilting hobby.
Thinking about the house near St. Vincent's, I wondered how the now-homeless tenants would handle the obvious challenges after the fire.
Did they have insurance? Would there be lawsuits? Would they find temporary or permanent housing? Were there injuries?
How would my wife and I handle these challenges if we were in the same circumstances?
I couldn't fathom having to deal with insurance adjusters or lawyers if a fire were caused by a defect of some kind.
Earlier this week, I heard about a massive explosion in North Stamford that leveled a multimillion-dollar home.
Early speculation was that it may have been a propane tank.
Thankfully, there were no injuries, but the devastation will surely unnerve that family for a long time to come.
I also remembered a horrible fire at the home of our late friend Susan's neighbor in Easton. I had visited that beautiful home on business once, and couldn't imagine the damage.
I believe that home has since been restored to its former grand state, but I remember Susan telling me how stunned she was when she saw the house after the blaze and tried to console her neighbor.
I suppose it's easy to say that fires happen all the time and people have a way of bouncing back.
But as I thought about the burned remains of the home I had seen, I wondered how the people living in areas around the Yosemite National Park wildfires would bounce back or how the people in Seaside, N.J., would handle the after-effects of the recent fires along the boardwalk there.
Somehow with natural disasters, we know we have no control over the wrath of Mother Nature in a hurricane or the damage caused by floods like those in Colorado.
But with fires are often so many unanswered questions. And there is rarely a sense of closure, even when a cause is identified.
It's been more than two weeks since I saw the aftermath of the Bridgeport fire. I pass the street every day, and nothing much is happening with the building.
I wonder if they'll tear it down and build a small apartment building or condos instead.
For the sake of the victims, I am hoping there is some kind of closure.
Right now, the building is just a charred reminder of how swiftly a fire can wipe out so much, leaving only ashes of what once was.
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his "In the Suburbs" appears each Friday. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.